Dispatches From the Show – Nicole Atkins @ Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, DC 12/19/2014

I have followed Nicole Atkins since her Bleeding Diamonds days and have subsequently expressed my excitement about her music to anyone around me who would listen. After all these years there’s one thing about her music that leaves me absolutely baffled and bewildered—how the hell is it that this woman isn’t completely reigning all radio tides?

She will.

The residue of perfection—simple, flawless, and precise as an expression—cements the sediments of my sentimental experience at this show. From D’Amato’s stout acoustic opening to Nicole’s reviving, bluesy, country-coalesced, soul-reaching rock and my infused “Original Sin” (INXS) dance, post-show (I cannot-NOT dance to that song, but my dancing is a whole other dispatch)—I would relive this night a thousand times if I could. Let’s get into some details!

Straight in!

Anthony D'amato

Anthony D’amato

Anthony D’Amato spurred the Nicole Atkins show with a gracious and soulful set. Prior to this show, I had never heard of D’Amato, but I am now eternally elated to be acquainted with his music. D’Amato offered folky anecdotal songs on the woes and ways of love and life. His vocals and strumming (guy ripped acoustic on us) felt comfortable and familiar like a pair of worn-in jeans or nestling into grandma’s quilt and a fraying, favorite book.

Check. Him. Out.

Shortly after…

The space went dark and Nicole Atkins appeared in the middle of the crowd, opening with a nostalgic-laced, acoustic package of “Neptune City.”

Nicole Atkins Live

Nicole Atkins Live

And as the final lines of that song were carried by the wind to the shores of a mystic afterlife, she parted the sea, rose to the stage, and wave-crashed into “Maybe Tonight.”

Obviously, the girl knows how to sew her songs, because this seamless transition set the tone for the rest of the evening.

With each passing tune, her vocals ranged from a gentle, comforting rainstorm rumble to an evocative reverberation of thunder. She projected a steady blend of edgy and controlled—and never faltered. Nicole Atkins possesses the kind of vocals that mandate live observation.

Time after time, like a banished boulder tumbling from heaven, her voice boomed and rippled us until it gripped us at an end. And she took us exactly where we needed to go.

“Who Killed the Moonlight”

Finally, Atkins fringed on conclusion when she lashed “Red Ropes”, which then latched onto the coattails of “The Tower.”

“Red Ropes”

Listening to Nicole Atkins perform “The Tower” live will rip out your soul, wring it—and then leave it on a winter clothesline to freeze. Truly, you have to hear-see this song performed live. It will forever amend your existence.

“The Tower” Live

Atkins closed her set with an emergence back into the crowd and a heartrending acoustic cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying”—leaving me stunned and speechless. She did go back on stage for one final song (after all, ‘tis the season)—and fully completed her show with an audience participation encouraged rendition of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” (my companion was granted a marvelous moment with Nicole’s microphone on this one).

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That was it, and however glorious it was, all things must end, but Atkins’ presence and performance stays with me now like an intimate coffee and chat conversation with a lover you never want to leave.

I salute you, Atkins—and will definitely wear sweatpants and Nikes to celebrate your birthday. Although admittedly, I do not feel comfortable in either of those things.

“It went bang, I said…” Wrap Up!


Goody Bonus Bit

Combining my last concert dispatch piece with this one, I’m leaving this brilliance here.

Mick Fleetwood, Nicole Atkins, vibrato talk, inspirations, and tequila –

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